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Frequently Asked Questions

Managing the stormwater and wastewater systems for the St. Louis region is a complex job. The team at MSD is here to help you make sense of it all. Find answers to common questions about contacting MSD and customer service. Use our quick links below to view other frequently asked questions on our site. 

Customer Service Questions

Smoke testing is a procedure in which harmless smoke is forced into the sanitary sewer from a manhole. Defects are identified where smoke is found exiting the system either from soil, pavement, sidewalks, storm sewers, cleanouts, or other private drain connections. The defect marks a deficiency in the sanitary or wastewater system where stormwater or groundwater may enter, leading to possible sanitary sewer overcharge and problems such as overflows and basement backups into people’s homes.

No. People with health problems who cannot leave their house during the smoke testing may request their lateral be plugged to eliminate the possibility of smoke entering their home. Some pet owners choose to remove their pets from the house on the day the smoke testing takes place. Pet owners may also request that their lateral be plugged.

RJN Group maintains an online list of the areas being tested, along with the schedule and progress.

Smoke typically enters the house through an unused drain, such as a basement floor drain, because the trap has dried out, allowing the smoke to push through and enter the house. To prevent or stop the smoke from entering the home, pour some water into the drain to fill the trap. Open ended drain pipes exposed in a house generally due to plumbing work can also allow smoke into the house. To prevent smoke from entering, stick a wet rag into these pipes during the smoke test. Other sources of smoke entry usually indicate a plumbing problem within the house.

Workers may need to access private property to locate and investigate defects identified by smoke testing. Workers may also need to access private property to perform additional testing such as dye tracing of drains suspected of being connected to the sanitary sewer. Workers will not need to enter the home unless asked to do so by the owner, as in cases where smoke is entering the home. In addition, they will not enter an area where animals are fenced in to prevent attack or loss of the animal.

MSD has recorded information of permitted sanitary sewer connections to the public sewers made since MSD’s creation in 1954. For connections made prior to this time, a search of the St. Louis City and other sewer districts historical records will be necessary. In order to obtain this information, the property owner will need to contact the MSD Engineering Department. Please visit our Lateral Line page for more information.

Homeowners are responsible for the maintenance of the sewer lateral lines. For additional information, contact the Lateral Line Insurance Program sponsored by St. Louis City (314) 647-3111, ext. 1008, St. Louis County (314) 615-8427 or your governing municipality. You can also visit our Lateral Line page for more information.

You can contact MSD through its Customer Service number, (314) 768-6260, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please visit our Report an Issue page for more information.

If there is a public sewer immediately adjacent to the property, a connection permit may be issued to the licensed drain layer selected by the property owner to make the connection. Connection and permit fees will be required. For a single-family residence the connection fee is $1,126.00. The connection permit is $75.00. An additional tap fee of $300.00 may be required if there is no existing wye on the public sewer at the location of the connection. The property owner will also be responsible for the necessary permits from the St. Louis City or St. Louis County for the abandonment of the septic system.

If there is no public sewer immediately adjacent to the property, the property owner will be responsible for extending the public sewer. Construction plans prepared by a professional engineer licensed in the State of Missouri must be submitted to MSD for approval prior to beginning any work. The property owner is responsible for all costs associated with the design and construction of the public sewer and the acquisition of all easements.

Easement records are maintained by the Recorder of Deeds of St. Louis County and St. Louis City. The property owner will need to go to the Recorder of Deeds to obtain this information.

A storm line accepts and drains the ground water. A sanitary line receives wastewater from your home.

MSD will field locate public sewers upon request. The property owner should contact Customer Service at (314) 768-6260 to request the location of the sewer.

Retention & detention basins are maintained by the subdivision trustees or governing municipality. Culverts are maintained by St. Louis County or governing municipality.

MSD maintains the flow of the creek only, i.e. (tree in creek blocking the water flow) and improved channels.

An easement is an interest in real property that conveys use, but not ownership of a portion of an owner’s property.

You should contact a plumber if internal plumbing is causing a backup in your sink, bathtub or your toilets to overflow.

Contact your homeowner’s insurance company for information.

MoDOT is the holder of a (separate) Phase II stormwater permit; this permit applies to work performed on MoDOT ROW by MoDOT or its contractors. MoDOT’s permit does not authorize work by public or private entities that perform work as part of development. Therefore, development projects that discharge into MoDOT maintained sewers shall provide BMPs as required to meet MSD rules and regulations.